Calea Victoriei is a historic street that leads north from the heart of Bucharest. It was opened in 1692 by Constantin Brâncoveanu, the Voivode (Prince) of Wallachia at the time, and was paved with wood. Today there’s a mixture of beautiful historic mansions (many from the 19th century), parks, and some stretches of ugly modern buildings. My posts about Old Town and Piața Revoluției cover a lot of the sights along the street. This post will cover some other sights that run along it north of Piața Revoluției. I’ll start from south to north.
First is the Biserica Albă (White Church), built in the 18th century.
A couple blocks up on the west side is the Ştirbei Palace. It was built between 1850 and 1863 by the Ştirbei family. Barbu Dimitrie Știrbei was the Prince of Wallachia and has had a few descendants that served in the Romanian government. The palace was seized by the Communist government in 1949, all the valuables inside were stolen, and the building sat abandoned until 1959, when it was restored as a diplomatic residence for foreign dignitaries. It was briefly used as a hotel and is now a restaurant and private event venue. The Ştirbei family is still buried on the site.
The Art Collections Museum, a branch of the National Art Museum, is located in the Romanit Palace. It was completed in 1822 and acquired by the Romanian government in 1836, later being used as the Ministry of Finance. Two new wings were added by the Ministry of Finance, giving it its present U shape.
In beautiful Parcul Nicolae Iorga sits the Biserica Sfântul Nicolae Tabacu (St. Nicholas Tabacu Church). It was built in 1864 on the site of a 17th century wooden church.
Across the street just to the north is the Casa Hristu, a historic house built in 1871. There are other more impressive homes and mansions from the early to late 19th century along the street, but this simple one caught my eye.
On the north end of the park is Grădişteanu-Ghica Palace. It was the home of the Ghica family, who ruled Wallachia and Moldavia during much of the 17th and 18th century. The palace was built in the 18th century and is one of the most impressive buildings on the entire street.
THE most impressive building on Calea Victoriei is the Cantacuzino Palace. It was built in 1901 by Gheorghe Grigori Cantacuzino, a mayor of Bucharest and Prime Minister of Romania, and also a descendent of the Byzantine royal family.
Cantacuzino’s son, Mihail, inherited the palace. When he died in 1929, his wife, Maria, remarried with composer George Enescu. After Enescu died in 1955, she turned the home into the National Museum George Enescu. A small building behind the palace is the George Enescu Memorial House. The museum is well worth a visit, both to see the palace and to learn about the fascinating life of Enescu. It’s closed on Mondays.
Across the street from the Cantacuzino Palace is the Biserica Sfântul Vasile cel Mare (St. Basil Church). It was built in the early 19th century.
Piața Victoriei (Victory Square) is where Calea Victoriei ends. This wide open square hosts Palatul Victoria (Victory Palace), which was named after the square. It’s the home of the Government of Romania and contains the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Just north of the square along Șoseaua Kiseleff, the continuation of Calea Victoriei, are two museums. The first is the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History. The building was built in 1893 and the museum is named after Grigore Antipa, a biologist who administered the museum for 51 years.
The next museum is a must see when in Bucharest. The fantastic Museum of the Romanian Peasant is dedicated to rural life in Romania, with objects such as traditional costumes, ceramics, furniture, religious items, tools, an actual house, and even a tribute to grandmothers. The building was built in 1906 when the museum was founded, but it was used as a museum of communism during the rule of the Romanian Communist Party. It reopened as the peasant museum in 1990. In the basement is a small exhibit on communism. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is 8 lei for adults, 4 lei for seniors, and 2 lei for children. It’s well worth your time and money.
Across the street is a very large park, Parcul Kiseleff, which contains the National Museum of Geology on its southern end. The building opened in 1906. The museum is open daily and charges 8 lei for adults and 4 lei for students and seniors.